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Healthy Snacks - Healthy Children

Updated on May 13, 2009

More than ever, today's children (and adults) should be eating healthier. The key is to choose healthy snacks that fill up the tummy and help nourish without adding too many calories. Healthy snacks are a terrific way to satisfy that hunger and get all the vitamins and nutrients your body needs to grow strong and stay well. They are an important part of losing weight by helping to manage the hunger level to prevent overeating and allow the opportunity to enjoy small portions of the foods you love. Making healthy snacks like trail mix and fruit bars can be a fun and creative way to provide activities for children to grow, learn, and stay healthy from head to toe. They don't have to be sweets and the more you re-train your taste buds with good snacks, the less likely there will be cravings for any "bad snacks". Fruits and nuts lower the risk of heart disease, cancer and high blood pressure. Fruit, like grapes and apples make excellent snacks because the fiber in them makes the natural sugar release slower thus decreases the chances of hypoglycemia.

Healthy snacks should be easy to make and readily available to take anywhere. Perfect for traveling, Gorp, a medley of dried fruit, nuts, granola and oatmeal, is a healthy bag of energy that's great on those train or plane shuttles, camping, hiking in the woods or jogging on long trails--and a great favorite of all who partake! (Tip: adding chocolate makes one very thirsty).

A good habit is to tuck crackers, baby carrots, nuts and fruit into your backpack or purse. One of the best ways to make healthy snacking part of your everyday routine is to prepare them in advance. People who eat regular meals and healthy snacks are less likely to overeat and gain weight than people who skip meals or go for long periods without eating and then scarf down cookies and a large order of fries. Keep a platter of edibles in the center of the refrigerator; if snacks are readily available, they will be pleasing to the eye and eaten; a sliced apple can be more enticing than a whole apple. Cheese and crackers or celery loaded with peanut butter and raisins get the attention of even the biggest 'babies'! These ideas for healthy snacks minimize fat and calories and maximize whole grains, fruits and veggies.

Snacks can include fresh fruit, such as apples, bananas, grapes, oranges, strawberries, watermelon, etc, which are often high in fiber and vitamin C, low in fat, and have no added sugar--and never underestimate the love of fresh vegetables! Give your children the power to decide for themselves; you don't have to like them, but when properly presented, children will readily enjoy--and ask for--raw vegetables that are on hand, such as broccoli, cauliflower and green peppers. Healthy drinks and a generous portion of a nutritious snack for breakfast can be a quick, but great way to start the morning. Of course, there are good sides and bad sides of snacking, and although The National Heart Foundation encourages healthy snacks, they also advocate that snacks should be eaten in moderation in addition to full, nutritious meals.

Keeping unhealthy snacks out of a baby's diet can have a great influence on teaching healthy eating choices and are the building blocks of a healthy teen diet. With your children, make a snack chart with a list of healthy fruits and vegetables, adding children's own favorite, healthy snacks; pasting pictures will help them to visualize, thus developing a sense of proper eating habits and encourage healthy attitudes. When buying pre-packaged foods, consider skim-milk string cheese and fresh fruit; it’s especially great for those school field trips or quick pick-me-ups when running late for dinner.

Here are some interesting healthy snacks to try on those of all ages: Remember: Presentation is everything! What looks more enticing to you—apples on a shelf or a fruit medley? Fruit kabobs dipped in chocolate are a yummy treat (hey, it doesn’t mean you have to give up sweets altogether)! Good fruit dips include flavored yogurt, applesauce, low-fat sour cream sweetened with honey or brown sugar, and caramel ice cream topping. Fruit may be fresh, canned or frozen; try a smoothie or fruit cup of fresh fruit and non-fat yogurt; even banana or zucchini bread muffins can be frozen for later snacks. Small turkey sandwiches cut into shapes, tiny pigs in a blanket, English muffin pizzas are always a healthy hit—let them make their own creations of meat, cheese and fruit (they’re eating it, not you!). A handful of walnuts, almonds or peanuts and raisins are a great combination; they blend well together and are highly nutritious (but, be aware of the high fat content in nuts). Strive for a balance of carbohydrates, fat, protein and fiber. Sunflower seeds, sesame seeds and squash seeds are a great snack with healthy fats, protein, fiber and minerals. When you have them with a high-fiber cracker like Triscuits, you have a simple, easy-to-prepare snack that you can keep at work. Children will especially love fresh or dried fruit on their cereal; add a small handful of raw oatmeal and a dash of wheat germ. Fiber also helps decrease some of the more common but uncomfortable symptoms of pregnancy like constipation.

So, just how do vegetable snacks fit into this? Be creative: spinach rolls with cheeses, carrot cookies, asparagus, squash pie, cucumber sandwiches, and mixed raw vegetables and fruit juices. Provide a tray of varied, colorful garden vegetables including raw corn on the cob, raw snap beans and green pepper strips—children love them! These are all high-energy foods that hold up well in a locker or lunch box; the list is endless! Check out old recipe books; they’re terrific!

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